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20SB Blog Swap April 22, 2009

Posted by Patrick in Guest Post.
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I’m John, your 20-something guest blogger. I write a blog, College Grad “Real” World, which covers everything. I started blogging in 2006 after graduating college with no clue what to do next with my life. I’ve gotten into sports journalism since, but it’s difficult to tell from my blog. (Especially with the American Idol reviews each week.) I have a bachelors of arts degree in Physics and now I’m in school earning my masters of science in Journalism, figure that one out.

I grew up in New Jersey, but I live for the Seattle Mariners and the Buffalo Bills. For a glimpse why check out this post. But enough introduction, onto the post.

Baseball is the world’s most quantifiable sport. Individual events combine to create a “team” game. The fact that individual play can be quantified leads to baseball players being among the most revered and villified of sports icons. That’s how it’s been for one man who broke into the Major Leagues at the young age of 19.

Now, 20 years later, no matter what happens this season, the homecoming of Ken Griffey Jr. has already made this season a success for Seattle.

SEATTLE - APRIL 15:  Ken Griffey, Jr. of the S...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Griffey Jr. played 127 games in 1989 at the age of 19 and hit 16 home runs. I was five years old at the time. Over the next five years Griffey Jr. would grow into one of the best players in the Major Leagues. As I grew up I grabbed everyone of his baseball cards I could find. My favorite card was a 1993 Upper Deck Fun Pack card that had a cartoon Griffey Jr. flying up with a cape to make a catch. (My guess is it’s worth about 99 cents even today.) I tried to emulate Griffey’s beautiful yet powerful swing. Turns out that’s difficult to do while batting right-handed.

By the time Seattle played the New York Yankees in the ALDS in 1995, I was a diehard Mariners fan. Sure most of the games were 3,000 miles away, but the games were always in the box score. And there were highlights on ESPN. I still remember the nights I fell asleep on my basement floor trying to wait for the late edition of Baseball Tonight.

In 1999, as superstars are prone to do, Griffey Jr. left Seattle. He wanted to play closer to home. He wanted to play in his father’s home city. No one could blame him. He’d already become an iconic player. But it was a sad day when The Kid left for Cincinnati. I continued to follow his career and last season I had the good fortune of watching Griffey play against the Mariners at U.S. Cellular Field.

The game of baseball has changed a lot over the past 10 years. Defense has become quantifiable, steroids have become a contentious topic and through all of it some of the innocence has been lost. Griffey, because of a balky hamstring and over 2,500 games, is a shell of his former self.

Yet, when Griffey Jr. decided to sign with the Mariners over the Atlanta Braves this season I was overjoyed. Sure, Griffey will never again be the player who crashed into to walls to save home runs or made fans dream about the possibility of him breaking the home run record. Still, every at bat this season is an event. Griffey the designated hitter in Seattle is the best thing to happen to the Pacific Northwest in a long time.

And now, twenty years removed from his first foray into the Major Leagues I’m able to watch the Mariners and Griffey Jr. every day on MLB.tv. The Kid, and the world, sure has come a long way.